Rajasthan Royals batsman Steve Smith
Rajasthan Royals batsman Steve Smith reacts after playing a shot during the IPL match against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on April 27, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Is the worst over for Steve Smith? By lifting the hopes of Rajasthan Royals ever since taking over the captaincy and ensuring a string of victories, he has proved that his captaincy skills are as sharp as it was while he lead the Australian team.

On Saturday night, Smith was back at his best as a fielder, taking a stupendous diving catch of David Warner and playing an invaluable knock partnering Sanju Samson to guide his team to the target. Jaydev Unadkat, named Player of the Match, even named Smith as the reason behind his good show.

It is never easy for anyone to recover from the shame and humiliation that Smith went through following the one-year ban for ball tampering. Along with Warner, he was repeatedly addressed as the ‘Bad Boys of cricket’.

Smith has even lost the Australian team captaincy for the World Cup to Aaron Finch. Had he not committed the mistake of tampering with the ball, he would have been the automatic choice for Australia’s captaincy in the 2019 World Cup.

To rise from smithereens requires phenomenal mental strength. Before Smith was banned, he was in close chase with Virat Kohli, piling up runs with ease and cracking centuries. Smith’s story is a lesson for youngsters on how indulging in acts against the spirit of the game can result in a fall from grace, and how quickly one turns from a hero to a villain. It is also a lesson on how cricket rules should be adhered to and not bent or shown disregard.

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Talking about the win against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he read the Sawai Mansingh Stadium wicket correctly and immediately remarked after the toss that it would be probably a fraction slower. It was his captaincy that stopped Sunrisers from rising above his team despite David Warner and Manish Pandey being involved in a big partnership and at one stage reaching 103 for one in 12 overs. Smith’s field placements too played a role in his Australian team partner being unable to hit a single boundary or six and score only 37 off 32 balls.

Cricket Australia had stated that Smith and Warner will not be considered for team leadership positions until one year after the ban that ended on March 29, 2019. For Smith, who has had to carry so much of shame on his shoulders and still motivate the team, this win is special.

Today, Smith is mentioned as the ‘disgraced former Australian skipper and the bad boy of cricket’. But for Smith, who started as a leg spinner-utility batsman and stunned the world by turning into one of the finest batsmen and going on to lead Australia, it is only a matter of time before he gets his fans to laud him.

It seems that the resurrection has already begun from the IPL.